Peter Blauner is not the most economical mystery writer around but he gets away with it in Slipping Into Darkness. His tale of a NYPD police detective slowly losing his vision, a freed convict who claims his innocence, and a fresh murder with DNA that makes a twenty-year old corpse the prime suspect is fascinating.

The reason why Slipping Into Darkness works is the protagonists. Detective Francis X Loughlin and Julian Vega are both likeable and believable. There are fascinating chapters at the beginning of this mystery novel where Blauner describes what it is like for Vega to be out in New York City after some twenty years: he is lost both in a city that has totally changed and in a society he no longer understands. Loughlin begins the novel as a clever, dedicated police detective but his descent into darkness is not only psychological but due to retinitis pigmentosa. Vega is a lost soul trying to clear his name and understand a world he has spent twenty years away from.

Vega was convicted of the murder of Allison Wallis, Loughlin is the detective who interrogated Vega twenty years ago. Vega is released on a technicality and soon afterwards another murder bears similarities to that of Wallis’. The new victim, Christine Rogers has Wallis’ DNA under her fingernails, and Wallis’ mother believes her daughter is still alive.

This mystery alternates between Vega trying to live on the outside and Loughlin trying to solve two crimes with the knowledge he spiked the evidence in the first one. This works though there are a few chapters here and there that feel extraneous.

It takes a while for the crimes to be solved and the reveal is probably going to frustrate more difficult mystery readers, as if some of the pieces of the puzzle were in another box somewhere. They fit, but ….

Slipping Into Darkness
Peter Blauner
Warner Books 2007
470 pages

Related posts